We all have a vice and whether it is coffee, tea, beer, wine, cigarettes, drugs, or dating losers, etc., it’s usually a bad habit that we keep meaning to kick. Mine happens to be caffeine, particularly coffee.
Now I’m not a multiple cup kind of drinker. I also don’t drink out of an extra, extra large cup. I just like to have my single, morning coffee (sometimes tea) which doesn’t seem like much of an issue. Our society drinks multiple, large cups a day to make it through their stressful lives. In fact, Tim Horton’s added a new extra large cup to their coffee line up this week by changing their cup sizes. They did this to accommodate their consumers and be able to stay in line with the rest of their competitors and the sizes that they were offering. Have you ever seen a McDonald’s large coffee? It’s huge! So now a large coffee at Timmy’s is a medium coffee!
On a side note, it made me feel better to be able to say to myself that I am only drinking a “medium” coffee now.
(Of course I entered for a chance to win coffee for a year)
I’ve read many nutrition books and I keep getting the same message – eliminate caffeine from your diet and you will wake up feeling as good as you do when you are drinking that cup of coffee but without having to actually drink it. Somehow I find that hard to believe. What better feeling is there than waking up to a hot cup of joe on a cold winter day?? How is this “medium” coffee really that bad for me?
Well, caffeine is an addictive substance and it is also a central nervous stimulant. Yes, that does mean that it will give you temporary benefits such as mental clarity, higher energy levels and muscular coordination. The key word in that sentence being temporary because as soon as the caffeine wears off you usually end up feeling worse than you did before drinking the coffee.
Plus there are many negative effects from caffeine. I’m not going to list them all as it would probably take up another five or so paragraphs but I will list some of the bigger issues that caffeine may cause:
- insomnia, nervousness, irritability
- loss of minerals (potassium, magnesium and zinc) and vitamins (B vitamins and vitamin C)
- increased heartburn from stomach hydrochloric acid production (definitely a culprit on my list!)
- adrenal exhaustion, stress, fatigue
- loss of minerals and reduced absorption of iron and calcium
- increased blood pressure and hypertension
- increased cholesterol and triglyceride blood levels
- heart rhythm disturbances and mild arrhythmias and palpitations
Caffeine also has highly-acidic forming effects on the body’s pH. Your body’s pH is very important and should be kept balanced. However, these days we tend to eat a much more acidic diet so the contribution of multiple cups of coffee a day can wreak havoc on our body’s pH levels.
Now we come to the topic of add-ons. Sugar and cream (and cream substitutes) are two other culprits themselves that should not be added to your coffee. Not only are they fattening, but they also have detrimental effects on your health. If you need to drink your coffee, add almond milk or soya milk or at least low-fat organic milk or better yet, drink it black! Sugar should be avoided (sweeteners as well – I will cover this topic another day). If you absolutely need to sweeten your coffee, then use stevia, xylitol or raw agave syrup which are healthier options. All of them are available at your local health store and xylitol is even available at Shoppers or Rexall.
Is this enough to make me want to give up coffee? I haven’t decided. If one cup of coffee a day is the worst thing that I’m doing to sabotage my health then maybe I can afford to continue drinking it. Life is short right? I am however, thinking about cutting down my consumption and substituting with alternatives on some days. If you are looking to do the same, then I would suggest substituting with green tea, herbal teas or carob. Carob is a member of the legume family that I recently learned about. The pulp of these carob pods is sweet, and tastes similar to a mixture of cocoa and coffee, without the caffeine. It is also alkaline-forming (bonus!). You can mix it with raw cocoa powder and organic low-fat milk. Yum!
If you decide to keep coffee in your life, just remember to make sure you are getting proper rest each night and ensure that you are getting all of your nutrients through a healthy diet! Caffeine should be more of a naughty indulgence that brings pleasure to your day rather than as a crutch to get you through your day!